Did you know that sometimes anxiety can be helpful? Or that sometimes we enlist it, usefully or not, as our ally? Mostly, we tend to dislike, or dislike very much, the feeling of anxiety. But a little can be good in some situations. Going in for surgery, for example: patients with a little anxiety often have better outcomes than those who go in with none. And sometimes we use anxiety to shield us from the huge bump of a disappointment if things go badly. Unfortunately, in this last circumstance, the anxiety doesn't help our circumstances, it just makes the disappointment seem less. And in the meantime, we suffer with a lot of anxiety.
Since we all do have some anxiety from time to time, how do we know when it's too much? When is it time to do something about it?
One good question to ask is, "Has anxiety-- worry, stress, tension-- become disruptive to your life? Sometimes we know the answer to that right off: I'm getting nothing done, my stomach's in a knot all the time, sometimes it even feels hard to breathe, I never stop worrying. Sometimes, though, it's not so clear. Here are a few indicators that anxiety might be unnecessarily interfering with your life: fairly consistent sleep problems or muscle tension (clenched jaw, tight shoulders), chronic indigestion; perfectionism (can't get al lot done because it's never good enough) or compulsive behaviors; self-consciousness that interferes with social interactions and enjoyment; out of proportion fears, flashbacks, panic attacks. Or, simply having a lot of anxiety for a long times
My approach to anxiety and panic attacks is to generally work first towards some quick relief and new ways of working with distressing symptoms. This may involve stabilizing activities and information as well as looking at present circumstances. Following and through this we will explore deeper issues beneath present ones. It might seem-- and sometimes it might be-- that only the immediate pressing concerns are the source of distress. Often, however, earlier learning and experiences, some remembered, some not, have set patterns of thought belief, attitudes, and ways of interacting that have set the stage for the present circumstancs and feelings. We can search for these while continuing to work on reducing symptoms.
As we untangle the puzzle we can experiment with new ways of thinking, acting, and interacting. If previous trauma seems to be part of the problem, we can address that directly sometimes with approaches such as emdr..
Our goal is more effective ways of handling stress when it occurs, and of course, healing underlying conditions so there is much less anxiety to handle.
Kathy Nash M.A., L.P.C. License # 882 phone: 307-760-5665
Laramie, Wyoming 82070 wyowellnessworks.com